Most-Sued Mascot Heads Back to Court

The Phillie Phanatic is hit with a lawsuit — again.

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REUTERS/Steve Nesius

The Phillie Phanatic tosses a bucket of water over a member of the grounds crew during a MLB spring training game between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida, February 27, 2011.

It is large, green, and furry. It has been called the best mascot in professional sports by both Sports Illustrated and Forbes. But now it is heading back to court — for at least the fourth time.

The Phillie Phanatic — the longtime mascot for baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies — is facing a lawsuit after allegedly throwing a woman into a pool, CBS Philly reported. The claimant, Suzanne Pierce, of Abington, PA, is suing the Phanatic for unspecified damages after it allegedly picked up a lounge chair in which she was sitting and threw her into a pool at a hotel in July 2010.

(More: The Agony and the (Rare) Ecstasy of the Philadelphia Sports Fan)

Pierce filed her lawsuit on Monday in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia. In her claim she writes that she suffered shock, a herniated disc and several other “severe and permanent injuries to her head, neck, back, body, arms and legs, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and tissues.”

“She’s got herniations at various levels of her back,” Pierce’s attorney Aaron Denker told CBS.

Although two men share the duties of Phanaticizing — Tom Burgoyne and Matt Mehler trade off wearing the suit — it is not clear that Pierce knows who was behind the mask on that day in July, 2010. Her suit names both men, as well as “any currently unknown or unnamed individual to play the role of the Phillie Phanatic.”

The Phanatic is no stranger to the inside of a courtroom. In fact, CBS News reports that this may be “at least the phourth time the Phanatic has been sued phor antics some phind unphunny.”

But puns aside, a 2002 Cardozo Law Review claimed that the Phanatic has the “dubious record” of being the “most sued mascot in the majors.” That number has gone up by at least two suits since that article was published: in addition to Pierce’s claim, the mascot was also taken to court in 2010 for hurting a fan’s knees after climbing on her.

Bob Jarvis, the sports-law professor who wrote the 2002 law review article theorized that the Phanatic’s litigation-filled history may have something to do with his rotund size, writing that “it’s very ungainly, not like some mascots where the person in the suit has a lot of control.”

More: Tampa Bay Rays Turn ‘DJ Kitty’ Viral Video Into Actual Mascot.